In 25 years, Ron Shults has had ample opportunities to observe the interaction between children and law enforcement personnel. Due to the nature of their duties, police officers often have an introduction that can be negative in the eyes of children.
In 1995, a group of business associates making trading cards for the Dallas Police Department invited Shults to assist them with their efforts. He joined the Board of Directors and his employer, Guaranty Federal Bank, helped fund the growing effort to promote positive interaction between law enforcement personnel and children. The project was named the Kid’s and Cop’s™ Trading Card program. Each of the officers in the program are nominated by their peers, reviewed by Internal Affairs and selected by the Executive of their agency.
During Shults’ first year, it has grown from a 25-card program issuing 500,000 cards to a 37-card program issuing 740,000 cards. He has been instrumental in obtaining a logo and a card design, along with overseeing quality control for the final cards.
The sponsors and volunteers from the community have assisted in setting up card signings at locations such as: hospitals for children, shopping malls, elementary school, the State Fair of Texas and many other opportunities where kids are in abundance. The officers are also encouraged to distribute their cards while doing their regular assignments. They love to meet the kids and autograph a special comment for each child on their Trading Card. Additionally, the officers pose for photographs with the kids, often next to a helicopter, horse, motorcycle, squad car or other items that intrigue children.
In 1997, the program was embraced by the entire Houston Police Department, and in 1998, 700,000 cards featuring 69 officers were distributed in the diverse Houston community. As the program gained momentum in Houston, new corporate sponsors and volunteers were easy to find. Later that year, Shults introduced the program to Austin’s Chief of Police and the Chief immediately saw how the program could greatly enhance his Community Policing Program. During the first year, 240,000 cards featuring 12 cards and 12 officers were distributed.
The Kid’s and Cop’s™ Trading Card Program has had a distribution of more than 8.3 million cards honoring officers from the Dallas, Austin, and Houston areas. Officers line up to be a part of the program in each of the cities. Shults continues to oversee the selection, card design and production, along with enjoying the signing events in all three cities, and is in the process of expanding the program in Stockton, California.